Medical charity begins Ebola vaccination in DRC

Kinshasa, DRC (PANA) - Medical NGO, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) says it has started vaccinating Ebola frontline workers in Bikoro, Equateur Province, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where teams have been working with the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) over the past few weeks. The trial vaccination will also be offered to contacts of patients.

It said in a statement on its website that the Ebola vaccine (rVSVDG-ZEBOV-GP) is being used as part of the overall strategy to control the Ebola outbreak.

This investigational vaccine has not yet been licensed and is being implemented through a study protocol, which has been accepted by national authorities and the Ethical Review Board in Kinshasa, as well as MSF’s Ethical Review Board. The protocol defines to whom, when and how the vaccine should be given.

It said participants receive information on the vaccine before consenting, and will be carefully monitored over a period of time. Participation is voluntary and the vaccine is free.

The vaccination will be administered using a ‘ring’ approach. This involves identifying newly diagnosed and laboratory-confirmed Ebola patients and locating the people they have been in contact with. These people and their contacts — often family members, neighbours, colleagues and friends of the patient — will constitute the ‘ring’. Ebola health workers in the affected area will also be offered the possibility of vaccination, as they are most at risk of exposure to the virus and developing the disease.

MSF said ring vaccination ensures that the vaccination of people who are in the ‘ring’ create a buffer zone — or protective ring — to prevent the spread of infection.

In collaboration with the Ministry of Health, WHO and other agencies, MSF and its epidemiological research arm Epicentre were involved in vaccine trials in Conakry, Guinea at the end of the Ebola outbreak in 2015.

“Based on the results of the past trials we are confident in using the vaccine for this current outbreak. Given that it has not yet been licensed, we will be closely monitoring the vaccination,” said says Dr Micaela Serafini, Medical Director of MSF in Geneva. “The results of the trial suggest that the vaccine will present a real benefit to people at high risk of contracting Ebola, protecting them against the infection. However, vaccination remains just one additional tool in the fight against the disease. Identifying patients and contacts is the first step.”

People who are vaccinated continue to follow the same infection control protocols as in previous outbreaks and Ebola health workers will continue wearing protective equipment.

The statement said the pillars of responding to an Ebola intervention must continue in order to stem the spread of the disease. These are: providing medical and psychological care, and isolating people who are sick; outreach activities including tracing and following up contacts; informing people about the disease, how to prevent it and where to seek care; supporting existing healthcare structures; and temporarily adapting cultural behaviour, such as funeral rituals.

The current outbreak was declared on 8 May, in the northwest of the country. As of 28 May, there had been 35 confirmed cases of Ebola resulting in 12 deaths, according to figures from DRC’s Ministry of Health.
-0- PANA MA 31May2018

31 may 2018 07:02:20

xhtml CSS